Pascale Charest, PhD, awarded grant from the American Cancer Society

May 19, 2015

Pascale Charest, PhD, was awarded a $792,000 grant from the American Cancer Society to further her research regarding the biological mechanisms that cause cancer cells to spread throughout the body.

The grant is among 100 national research and training grants totaling more than $45.6 million awarded in the first of two grant cycles for 2015. The grants will fund investigators at 63 institutions across the United States; 92 are new grants while eight are renewals of previous grants. The grants go into effect July 1, 2015.

Locally, public support of the American Cancer Society is helping researchers like Dr. Charest, who was awarded $792,000 for the study of “Signaling mechanisms underlying the directed motility of Eukaryotic cells.” This research will be instrumental in understanding the biological mechanisms that cause cancer cells to spread throughout the body, while evaluating possible therapeutic interventions to prevent cancer metastasis. The grant begins July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2019, and joins four other active American Cancer Society Extramural Grants at the University of Arizona, which total more than $3.6 million dollars.

Dr. Charest is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry at the University of Arizona. She is collaborating with University of Arizona Cancer Center associate member Ghassan Mouneimne, PhD, to study the molecular mechanisms of metastatic breast cancer cells.

“Currently, we don’t understand very much about the biological processes that lead to metastasis. Therefore, we have no efficient ways to stop cell migration,” Dr. Charest said.

Dr. Charest’s experiments focus primarily on the amoeba Dictyostelium, whose genes move in the same ways as human cells. Early models suggest that there are common ways that certain proteins interact during metastasis, which may lead to some targeted methods of intervention.

“What we hope to achieve is a deeper understanding of this process on a molecular level, so we can develop more effective therapeutics and stop the spread of cancer throughout the body,” Dr. Charest said.

Since 1946, the American Cancer Society has funded research and training of health professionals to investigate the causes, prevention, and early detection of cancer, as well as new treatments, cancer survivorship, and end of life support for patients and their families. In those nearly 70 years, the American Cancer Society’s extramural research grants program has devoted more than $4 billion to cancer research and has funded 47 researchers who have won the Nobel Prize.

The Council also approved 122 research applications for funding totaling more than $71.5 million that could not be funded due to budgetary constraints. These “pay-if” grants represent work that passed the Society’s multi-disciplinary review process but are beyond the Society’s current funding resources. These “pay-if” grants can be and often are subsidized by donors who wish to support research that would not otherwise be funded. In 2014, more than $5.6 million in additional funding helped finance 25 “pay-if” grants.

For more information about the American Cancer Society Research Program, please visit

About the American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society is a global grassroots force of more than three million volunteers saving lives and fighting for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. As the largest voluntary health organization, the Society's efforts have contributed to a 20 percent decline in cancer death rates in the U.S. since 1991, and a 50 percent drop in smoking rates. Thanks in part to our progress nearly 14 million Americans who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will celebrate more birthdays this year. We're determined to finish the fight against cancer. We're finding cures as the nation’s largest private, not-for-profit investor in cancer research, ensuring people facing cancer have the help they need and continuing the fight for access to quality health care, lifesaving screenings, clean air, and more. For more information, to get help, or to join the fight, call anytime, day or night, at (800) 227-2345 or visit

-May 19, 2015